PhD Archaeology / Programme details

Year of entry: 2024

Programme description

Our PhD Archaeology programme will see you undertake substantial original research leading to a thesis that constitutes a genuine contribution to archaeological knowledge. You can undertake your PhD as either a full-time or part-time programme.

Archaeology students often undertake some form of fieldwork as part of their PhD, such as small-scale excavation, survey, rock art recording, and working with museum collections and archives.

You could also carry out qualitative social research in the realm of heritage studies (eg conducting qualitative interviews or participant observation).

Archaeology research at Manchester is characterised by a number of themes, which give a distinctive flavour to our research and teaching. These include the study of:

  • history, theory and practice of Archaeology;
  • the archaeology of cultural identity;
  • landscape, monuments and architecture;
  • technology and society;
  • death and the body
  • archaeological heritage and the contemporary significance of the past.

Our doctoral students participate in a thriving disciplinary research culture with regular research seminars.

Many of our students undertake some undergraduate teaching following appropriate training.

Find out more about what it's like to be an Archaeology PhD student at Manchester and see what our current PhD students are working on.

Special features

Find out more about the Graduate School

Graduate School

All of our postgraduate students become members of the Graduate School when you start at Manchester. It has dedicated facilities for students and offers opportunities to collaborate with other postgraduates.

Additional programme information

Equality, diversity and inclusion  is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. 

We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. 

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

All appointments are made on merit. 

The University of Manchester and our external partners are fully committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Teaching and learning


The PhD programme is based on supervised independent research. The student-supervisor relationship thus sits at the heart of this programme.

Doctoral supervision is on a one-to-one basis, with meetings usually fortnightly in the first year.

Each student has a main supervisor, a co-supervisor and an additional panel member who acts as an independent reviewer. The Department's Postgraduate Research Officer provides more general academic advice and support.

In addition to regular personal supervision, our graduate research students each have a research panel which meets a minimum of two times per year (on more occasions if necessary).

The research panel increases the breadth of expertise available to the student and widens the informational and networking opportunities accessible to them.

In addition the panel reviews the development of the student's research proposal, provides feedback on draft chapters and conference papers, discusses research progress, and provides guidance on the formulation of realistic objectives.

Training opportunities

During the course of your programme, research postgraduates need to develop both broad generic research skills and specialised skills relevant to your specific discipline and field study.

Some of these skills will be acquired as part of our skills training, as well as a range of courses available across the University.

artsmethods@manchester  is a programme of talks, workshops and events running throughout the academic year, which explores approaches to arts research, research methods and the dissemination of arts and languages research at Manchester.

Archaeology students, especially those working on heritage research projects, also find the equivalent programme of workshops and training sessions offered by the School of Social Sciences useful.

Some training in archaeological approaches and techniques is provided through the AHRC Northwest Doctoral Consortium.

Additional bespoke training specific to the needs of individual projects is provided by PhD supervisory teams with the support of the Department's Laboratory Technician.

Finally, in conjunction with the Manchester Centre for Archaeology and Egyptology (MACE) there is increasing collaboration across the University in the area of archaeological science and support in the form of training and equipment is available to PhD students, to be negotiated on an individual basis through the supervisory team.

Coursework and assessment

The maximum length of the PhD thesis is 80,000 words. Assessment is based on the thesis and an oral examination.

Programme unit details

There are no compulsory taught units as part of the PhD programme.

However, where appropriate, you may audit undergraduate and master's course units subject to advice and approval by your supervisory panel.

You will also select from a range of research training workshops and short courses as appropriate to your doctoral research project.


Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Fly Through

The Manchester Museum , which is part of the University, has outstanding collections of Egyptian, Classical and prehistoric archaeology. Our students can also draw upon the resources of museums in Chester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Carlisle.

Many academic staff have close connections with national heritage bodies such as English Heritage and Historic Scotland, and postgraduates studying the conservation, management and representation of archaeological heritage often engage with these institutions, as well as with the museums mentioned above, and many more beyond the region.

Manchester is home to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries - one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries.

Its resources for archaeology have been built up over several decades and, as a consequence, there is a substantial collection in this area.

Likewise, the social anthropology collection provides an excellent resource for postgraduate students working in the realm of anthropological archaeology.

We share a reference library with Art History, which contains key high demand texts and provides a quiet working environment. As part of the Dept of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology & Egyptology we also share a common room and library.

There are two laboratories, one of which is dedicated to postgraduate and staff research. PhD students also benefit from the support of the Department's Laboratory Technician. We also share an illustration room with Art History, which provides access to specialised illustration software and other specialised software relevant to archaeological research.

Locked storage facilities for archaeological materials are available on request.

We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research. There are extensive computing facilities across campus, with access to standard office software as well as specialist programmes, all connected to the campus network and internet.

Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The Graduate School offers dedicated state of the art facilities to research students, including common rooms and workstations.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: